published Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Sausage, law, ObamaCare?

Otto von Bismarck, who was prime minister of the kingdom of Prussia in the late 19th century and who is credited with unifying Germany, is remembered, among other things, for his accurate description of the process of "legislating."

He said, "Laws are like sausage; it is better not to see them being made."

Well, there's a noteworthy current example of that as Democrats in Congress are making efforts to pass ObamaCare -- by hook or crook.

Will they be able to impose a trillion-dollar-plus socialized medicine plan upon the American people?

Can ObamaCare pass the Senate and the House of Representatives by proper, constitutional procedure?

Or will there be a resort to unconstitutional trickery?

Those are big current questions.

The Constitution of the United States says in Article I that all legislative powers are vested in Congress. Section 7 says, "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."

So how is this pertinent to ObamaCare?

Constitutional scholar and former U.S. Circuit Court Judge Michael W. McConnell, director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, explained in a valuable article a few days ago in The Wall Street Journal:

"Last Christmas Eve, the Senate approved a health-care bill by 60 votes, overcoming a Republican filibuster. This is the bill that contains the so-called Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, taxes on high-cost health insurance plans and coverage for abortions. Virtually no one now supports that version of the bill, but Senate Democrats no longer have enough votes to pass an alternative bill under ordinary procedures."

That's why questionable procedures are being discussed.

Judge McConnell continued:

"That is where reconciliation fits in. If the House passes the Senate bill and the president then signs it into law, reconciliation would permit Congress to pass new legislation making changes to that law. Reconciliation might not solve the abortion coverage problem or other nonbudgetary issues, but it would allow Democrats to correct most of the Senate bill's offensive issues.

"The rub," Judge McConnell explained, "is that, according to the Senate parliamentarian, reconciliation is permitted only for bills that amend existing law, not for amendments to bills that have yet to be enacted. This means that, for the Senate to be able to avoid a filibuster, House Democrats first have to vote for the identical bill that passed the Senate last Christmas Eve. That means voting aye on the special deals, aye on abortion coverage, and aye on high taxes on expensive health insurance plans ... ."

So in an attempt to avoid that challenge, "the Slaughter solution" (an ironic label, indeed, named for Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.) has been proposed.

Judge McConnell said, "It may be clever, but it is not constitutional."

He reminded that the Constitution says, "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."

But "the Slaughter solution" is an effort to pass ObamaCare without having both houses of Congress pass a bill with the same exact text.

So what we have is a revolutionary ObamaCare medical bill, with a trillion-dollar-plus cost, being presented in an other-than-straightforward legislative procedure.

We should not want to enact a bad, expensive bill even if it were approved by regular legislative means. Do you want a bad, trillion-dollar-plus bill passed by "the Slaughter solution"?

Judge McConnell concluded: "But the very purpose of it is to enable members of the House to vote for something without appearing to do so. The Constitution was drafted to prevent that."

Should anything as important as a multi-trillion-dollar health care bill affecting all Americans, and our entire nation for years to come, be enacted that way?

Do you want ObamaCare made unconstitutionally -- like "sausage" -- under a "solution" named "Slaughter"?

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.

Next time you use a historical comparison, you may want to complete your research first. Not only is the sausage quote attributed to Otto von Bismarck, so is his profound social reform of the Prussian/German state/nation, too. Bismarck may not be the best historical figure for your argument here. He is credited with implementing the world's first welfare state in the 1880s. He laid the foundation for well balanced government programs. In fact, Bismarck’s idea was to implement welfare programs that were acceptable to the conservatives without any of the overtly socialistic aspects. His program centered squarely on insurance programs designed to increase productivity, including a Health Insurance Bill in 1883.

Here's another Bimarck quote that ideologists on both sides of the aisle should take to heart: "Politics is the art of the possible."

Best, Christian Höferle Höferle Consulting

March 18, 2010 at 9:43 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

"Free Press" isn't known for researching it's "facts".

Thank you Christian for the rest of the story.

March 18, 2010 at 9:56 a.m.
Livn4life said...

Eeeeeek, Hoeferle Consulting, are you serious? What Bismark did later is completely not the point. What he said about legislation is the point. Rest of the story, yeah right. Where is the nation of Prussia now? If either or both of you support the unConstitutional way this is coming about maybe you need to go join in the rest of the story over "there" where socialism is such a marvelous experience. Here in the US we still have a Constitution!

March 18, 2010 at 10:06 a.m.

Dear Livn4life

I am serious. Not in my support or my opposition to ObamaCare. But in defence of history. I am not taking sides here publicly. My point simply was: Don't use Bismarck/German history in the wrong context. He isn't the poster child to use here. And I always cringe when people use far-fetched (German) historic comparisons or references.

To answer your question: Prussia more or less became the blueprint for founding the German nation. Also, please be careful with the label "socialism" and make sure you know what it really stands for. Bismarck certainly was not a socialist. Quite to the contrary. But I am sure you knew this.

March 18, 2010 at 11:02 a.m.
UWG said...

This is a critical week for the Obama administration. So much so that President Obama agreed to appear on Fox News, an outlet that has previously been chastised by the administration for its perceived bias in coverage. Obama has also traveled around the country to key districts in attempt to rally public opinion behind his health care proposal. Obama has pigeon-holed himself in some very important ways.

First, he tipped his hand far too early in the health care debate. He stated that his presidency should be judged according to whether or not he is able to achieve comprehensive health care reform. This was a dangerous game because Obama, coincidentally a very adept stud player, “went all-in” on health care before he knew what hand Congress and the public would deal him.

There are two important mistakes made here. First, Obama felt comfortable advancing what is a considerable agenda to Congress because he had a slightly longer than usual honeymoon period (being different from Bush, charismatic, and the first African American all helped), a Democratic Congress, and a relatively comfortable electoral victory. He counted on considerable support from the Democratic Congress, which he has not received. He underestimated the division that exists in the Democratic Party, specifically not recognizing the resilience of the Blue Dog Democrats or the Pro-life Democrats. Obama also seemingly underestimated the extent to which the Republicans would unify as the minority.

Secondly, Obama thought his personal popularity could help him sway legislators falling in the middle to go along with his agenda. But he did this without gauging public support for his health care plan, which has consistently been below 50 percent according to Gallup. The bully pulpit can provide some degree of assistance at the margins, but not if the public is not with the administration.

All of this leaves Obama in a considerably difficult place. The health care plan as originally put forth has been watered-down substantially, so much so that the public option seems far less likely. This alienates not only Blue Dog Democrats and Pro-Life Democrats, who oppose the bill because of the cost and the vague provisions related to abortion, respectively, but also the liberal left who want a robust public option.

So Obama is stuck with something he verbally encouraged his presidency to be judged upon, a plan in which the conservative and liberal wings of his own party are far from thrilled with. A plan that far fewer members of Congress seem passionate about passing than those who are passionate about obstructing.

Dr. Paul E. Rutledge

Professor of Political Science

University of West Georgia

March 18, 2010 at 11:53 a.m.

Thanks Prof for telling us what we already know, without really getting to the 'meat' of the matter.

Sir Hoeferle: Gotta love how that whole Hegelian Progressivism is working out in Europe in the here and now though, eh? Jobs, the economy, paying for all those delightful Progressive programs ain't easy old chap. As we are and will be seeing more of here in the good ole US of A.

PS: glad you and the Prof are here, doing well in your positions, making lots of those ole greenbacks..thank God for capitalism, eh?... @>

March 20, 2010 at 6:29 a.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.